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For the player who wants to win in the long run, also known as the advantage player, it goes like this. To begin, you must memorize the Basic Strategy. This strategy determines whether you should hit, split, double down, or stand based solely on the value of your hand and the dealers up card. Hit sixteen to seven. Although aces should never be split, fives can. Against nine or less, double ten. This continues. If you play a game with only one deck and execute your basic strategy flawlessly, you will have an advantage equal to that of the house.
Following that, you’ll learn how to count cards like in the movies. Statistics show that a player’s chances of winning money at blackjack are greatest when the deck contains a higher proportion of high cards than low cards. As a result, the Hi-Lo system was created, which assigns a minus one value to tens, jacks, queens, kings, and aces and a plus one value to all cards with a value of six or lower.
Begin the count from zero after each shuffle of the deck. Each card’s Hi-Lo value should be added to the total as it is dealt. If the count is negative, bet the smallest amount possible and gradually increase your wager as the count rises. Practice until it becomes second nature. And just like that, you’re a true card counter, with a one-percentage-point advantage, and ready to take down the house whenever it’s most convenient for you. Congratulations!
Except for one thing: the casinos are aware of your actions and have planned for them. According to Nevada law, the dealers and pit crew have the authority to count and eject anyone for any reason. If they have any inkling that you have skills, expect to be tapped on the shoulder, led to the door, and then ushered through it.
As a result, you should work on developing your cover as a form of defense. Should you appear to be some kind of Silicon Valley automaton while keeping an eye on the table and piling chips to keep track of the count? No, I don’t believe so. A drunken jerk? Do you exude confidence but lack common sense? Was he just squandering his inheritance? Yes, yes, and yes! In an ideal world, the shuffle takes an ordered deck (top) and completely jumbles it up (bottom):
The Perfect Shuffle Diagram
The colored blocks represent cards, and the lines that connect them show the paths they take between decks. After the deck has been shuffled, curves connect cards that were adjacent to one another in the unshuffled deck at the top and bottom, going from thin to thick.
Mathematicians believe that at least seven rifles or the two-stack interleave that most people refer to as a “shuffle,” are required to properly randomize a deck. However, because the casino loses money whenever the dealer tampers with the cards, they frequently resort to devious tactics to boost their profits. From my days playing blackjack in Cal-Reno, I recall the popular RRSR shuffle. It was made up of two rifles, a strip (a series of running cuts), and a riffle. Let’s try it out with Epstein’s card interleave odds as a model:
Diagram of RRSR Shuffle
At first glance, it seems out of order. However, if we look at the bottom curves, we can see that there are an unusually large number of short links deeper in the deck. These short links are pre-shuffle neighbors who remain in the same relative order but are now separated by seven cards, give or take a few. By golly, we have a deficiency in the ability to decorrelate.
Assume we’re watching the discard pile and the Jack of Diamonds is placed on top of the Queen of Hearts. What would occur? When the Jack of Diamonds appears after the next RRSR shuffle, there is a good chance that the Queen of Hearts will soon follow. This is because the Jack of Diamonds comes before the Queen of Hearts. And therein lies the opportunity: to track clumps, predict aces, and engage in other profitable but ostensibly pointless plays that will appease the looming pit boss while flying under his radar. So, it’s high ho, and I’m off to check out some casinos, so good luck to me!
Considering only what is in front of you, I want you to know that the shenanigans I have planned are completely legal and by Jewish law. There will be no underhanded tactics permitted, such as card marking, bribing the dealer, or using toe-activated in-shoe computers.
On the other hand, there will be plenty of complimentary drinks and color commentary. More information will be provided once I have earned one million dollars – or I will be taken to the boiler room, handcuffed to a pipe, and knocked out. Whichever event occurs first!